A good, working run with a clean finish from Iain McConnell and Joe gave them a comfortable lead at a challenging trial at Neilston.

The outrun was the first challenge of the day, with the course set on uphill ground which put the dog over the top and out of sight to come in behind touchy Blackface hoggs. As the day wore on, the music from the bagpipes and celebrations from the annual show in the adjoining field had dogs and sheep keyed up and alert to the change from their rural norms. Reaching the end of the course, the hoggs were unwilling to be penned and many good runs came adrift there.

Joe (J Shanks’ Kim NR, D Shaw’s Ben) as yet unregistered, ran out and lifted well for the conditions of the day, and made a good fetch. Amid the hubbub of the showground, the drive was marred by a navigation error as the hoggs emerged from the first drive gate, but once Iain had corrected that, the cross drive went well and a clean pen and shed secured Joe’s clear lead.

Stuart Davidson’s Dan (RW Harris’ Flyn and Straid Joe) too, started out well and worked steadily on the course with no holes there. A good pen followed and although the shed did not come off first time, once achieved, Dan earned second place.

Hot on Dan’s heels, a raft of three dogs finished a single point behind him.

Ian Brownlie’s Don (JP McGee’s Glencregg Silver, IM Brownlie’s Lia) ran out to the top and lifted his sheep cleanly. His fetch and drive suffered from the distractions of the day, but a clean pen followed. The shed consumed time and points, but once completed, the run took third place.

Chris Toner’s Niro Mace (DK Evans’ Ace, C Toner’s Maid) ran out clean to the top and lifted well. His fetch was good, but the drive was more testing. A clean shed followed a more difficult pen and Mace earned fourth place.

Michael Gallagher’s Dalriada Arya (A Owen’s Llangwm Cap, M Gallagher’s Val) worked well outbye, with the bother on the course that was common on the day, but a clean pen and shed made up for that and the run finished fifth.

Special mention was made by judge, Neil McEachern, of the youngest handler, Alexander Kent and Myllin Jill (O Murguia Ruiz de Olano’s Spot, HJ Francis Meg) who won the prize for the best drive of the day and came to the pen ahead of the field, but their failure to pen lost that obstacle and put the shed out of reach.

LEADING awards

Neilston (Judge: N McEachern, Dunoon) Open – 60 ran – 1, I McConnell’s Joe, Lamlash, 87; 2, SL Davidson’s Dan, Sandbank, 83; 3, IM Brownlie’s Don, Dunbar, 82 outbye; 4, C Toner’s Niro Mace, Drimsynie, 82 outbye; 5, M Gallagher’s Dalriada Arya, Alyth, 82; 6, S McCrindle’s Zak, Stranraer, 80 outbye; 7, E Nilsson’s Cid, Balintore, 80; 8, D Aitken’s Tweeddale Nell, Lockerbie, 79.